Calliopsis creates a colorful tangle of attractive flowers balanced atop wirey stems that sway at the slightest hint of breeze. Click here to download a large version (800x600) of this image.
Most of the tickseeds (genus Coreopsis) are perennials, but calliopsis is an annual. Growing 2-4 ft (60-120 cm) in height, calliopsis has opposite leaves, 2-4 in (5-10 cm) long, which usually are dissected into linear segments. The stems are stiff and wiry with numerous angled branches. The showy flowerheads are about 2 in (5 cm) across with purple discs and usually eight golden yellow rays. Several garden cultivars have been named, including dwarf forms, some with double flowers, and others with ray florets in various shades of maroon, bronze, orange, and red.
Location Coreopsis tinctoria is native to the American Great Plains from Minnesota and Nebraska south to Texas and Louisiana. Wild populations can be found on roadsides and in abandoned fields.
Calliopsis is a fast growing, carefree annual that should thrive in almost any well drained soil. It don't need no stinking fertilizer. Deadhead regularly to maintain successive flowering. Light: Grow in full sun. Moisture: Calliopsis likes a well drained, rather dry soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 4-10. Calliopsis is a warm season annual that can be cultivated almost anywhere. It thrives in hot weather. Propagation: Sow seed in place, just barely covered as they need exposure to light. Most should germinate in 5-10 days. Plants may self sow.
Sturdy calliopsis is a good choice for planting in the far reaches of your garden, even those places beyond the reach of the watering hose where it will thrive and bloom despite adversity and neglect (as demonstrated by this self-seeding patch Jack grows along the fence row.
Calliopsis is a very showy annual that is easy to grow, and thrives in poor, dry soils. It usually blooms from early summer through autumn. Plant in mixed annual beds, in herbaceous borders, or allow to naturalize in a wildflower garden. This annual tickseed is very showy planted in masses which sway in the gentle summer winds. (Unfortunately, they are susceptible to being knocked down from strong winds or rain.) Calliopsis is drought tolerant and a good choice for xeriscaping, or gardening with minimal watering. They are often grown for cut flowers. Butterflies are attracted to the flowers and birds to the seeds.
Calliopsis is a popular bedding plant, and a great choice for the beginning gardener. Easy to plant and easy to care for, calliopsis will reward with waves of pretty yellow flowers all summer long. Thread leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata) and just plain "coreopsis" (C. grandiflora) are two perennial tickseeds that also are popular with home gardeners.